May 4, 2013 by Last Star blog
The Devil’s Backbone…
We spent a lazy afternoon in Spanish Wells enjoying their true fishing village atmosphere. Everyone seems to have something to do on the docks. I watched some little boys feed the seagulls and a couple more play on the sand bars that are exposed at low tide. It was a beautiful sight.
I know you think all we do is sightsee, swim, and drink but we do a little work too. We spent the morning polishing the chrome… in that hot nasty sun! We did have a little visitor though, which made my day.
We also had a few clownish local guys stop and flash a badge, one I like to call the e-bay cop flasher badge. The driver had a nice tear tattooed under his right eye, maybe he was sad to leave prison? They gave some song and dance about being National Security (which is non-existent) but it was all bullshit, we never figured out what they wanted? Hank gave them the daddy voice and the hairy eye-ball and they left. Interesting day.
The next morning we ventured through the Devil’s Backbone to get to Dunmore Town, Harbour Island. Our cruising guide says this: “Negotiating the Devils Backbone Passage is not supposed to be a test of character. Taking a pilot does not reflect on your competence and seamanship, but not using a pilot says a great deal about your common sense. Of course, you can try it alone, if you wish. We do not recommend it. ” Alek has dubbed this book, the book of hyperbole. It goes on for another 7 paragraphs on ‘don’ts’ and each paragraph is ended with, call for a pilot. There are pilots (seafaring pilots) for hire here that will either get on your boat and pilot your vessel for you or will lead you through on their center console vessel. It’s not cheap but it’s not outrageous either, but you know, that’s a shit load of happy hours out! So, yes , you guessed it. We decided to do it ALONE. We waited for high tide and the sun high in the sky. We wanted as much water over the coral reefs as possible and as much sun in the water to see the reefs as possible. It is imperative to be able to do visual navigation in this situation. Most of the backbone is coral reefs standing a few hundred feet off the beach. I took a few pictures of the beach from the boat as we passed, these were not taken from the dinghy on a beach approach. ( I stopped taking pictures as it got a wee bumpy)
Now, in Hank’s defense we had traveled through here on the high speed ferry back in January and we plotted the route on a handheld GPS, the Garmin captured the entire thing a track. We also have good maps and I have the most excellent trustworthy navigator to take care of my well being. So, with some trepidation on my part but a whole lot of faith in my husband and in our sailing skills, we ventured through it. There was one part where our little guide book said (it has a sort of walkthrough of reefs) : “As you parallel the beach, the dark patches to port are reef. Favor the beach. When you run out of beach, there will be four dark patches, which are reef, …you will find yourself over other dark patches, which are also reef…” Oh, no shit Sherlock, the whole freaking thing is reef after reef and very many of them have bits sticking out with waves crashing. That’s what’s between us and the ocean, as we parallel the beach avoiding the boat crunching bits.
There were very large swells that caused most things not truly secured downstairs to make un-fun noises, there was a hatch not firmly fastened that let in a fair amount of water in the V-berth. We were tense but not scared. Of course…the huge fast ferry came right up on our ass at one point, that was fun, as it is not wide. In all of the sloshing and veering, you can see the cats were very upset. So upset they had to play and snuggle.
It was two hours that felt like six. We made it with flying colors…I knew we could do it, and just in time for lunch!
Now, in a few days we have to do it again! In the meantime, we will enjoy a few days in a truly wonderful spot!